Squid ink, or “nero di seppia” in Italian, is a unique delicacy used to add depth of flavor and color to dishes.
Historically used as writing ink, squid ink has come a long way and is now used quite a bit in Mediterranean and Japanese cuisines. The briny umami punch of richness it adds to cuisine is unparalleled outside of actual seafood.
What Is Squid Ink
Squid ink is the jet-black liquid produced and secreted by cephalopods like squids and cuttlefish. While it doesn’t sound appetizing, I promise it is. If you haven’t had Squid Ink Pasta with Garlic Butter Lemon Sauce, you’re missing out. It’s a very popular recipe here on Foodie and Wine, for good reason.
An important thing to note when shopping: check out the ingredient label to ensure what you’re buying is in fact the real deal. Many places will sub in cuttlefish ink as it’s cheaper to produce. Of course you can always buy pre-made ingredients vs. making from scratch – here’s the pasta brand I use.
What Does Squid Ink Taste Like
Squid ink has a milder taste than you’d imagine something from the sea to have. Depending on the brand, and if it’s actually cuttlefish ink vs squid ink, here are some flavor properties to expect:
- Briny and Salty – The most predominant flavor profile of is its briny, oceanic taste. Think raw oysters or fresh seaweed.
- Smooth Texture – Adds a smooth, velvety quality to dishes.
- Slightly Metallic – A few folks have described tasting a slight metallic flavor, however I haven’t experienced that particular taste.
While squid ink pasta is the go-to recipe, there are many other dishes that can be made with this liquid gold, including:
- Squid Ink Risotto – Creamy Arborio rice cooked with white wine, and seafood stock.
- Sauces – Fresh ink can be incorporated into sauces, offering a distinct marine note, often complementing dishes with shrimp, clams, or other seafood.
- Squid Ink Gnocchi – Soft potato dumplings made with the ink, served with seafood or a simple butter and garlic sauce.
- Aranchini – Sicilian rice balls filled with cheese, coated with Pangrattato, and flavored with ink.
- Paella – In Spain, “arroz negro” or black rice paella is a popular dish made with the black ink, giving it a distinctive look and taste.
- Squid Ink Fideuá – Similar to paella, but using short noodles instead of rice, and colored with ink.
- Bread: Black-hued breads can make for a striking presentation, especially when contrasted with brightly colored fillings or toppings.
- Aioli – Add a bit to garlic aioli for a fun flavor and color twist.
- Ramen – Japanese noodle soup given a twist with ink flavored broth.
- Pizza – Throw some in pizza dough when making using seafood pizza toppings.
Squid Ink Spaghetti
The Black ink can and will stain! I recommend using gloves and taking your time when handling to avoid getting blank ink on your clothes or kitchen counters.
A little goes a long way! If using fresh ink, make sure to add a very small amount and work your way up.